The extraordinary performance at the Tokyo Olympics was not a “one day wonder”, asserted Indian women’s hockey team chief coach Janneke Schopman, who is looking forward to this year’s World Cup.
Schopman said after the high in Tokyo, they are now determined to defend their Asia Cup title, which will ensure a direct qualification to the FIH Women’s World Cup, to be jointly co-hosted by Spain and Netherlands from July 1 to 17.
The Indian women recorded their best-ever performance in the Olympics last year by finishing fourth.
“Out performance in Tokyo exceeded our expectations but we still have more gains to make to be in the top-6 in the world. We need to keep improving because the girls don’t want to be a one-day wonder,” Schopman said during a virtual press conference ahead of Asia Cup.
“They want to be right up there and play against the best of the world to their potential.”
After the Olympics, the Indian women played just one game in the Asian Champions Trophy in Donghae, South Korea last month when they were forced to pull out of the event after one player tested positive for COVID-19.
“Since Olympics we played just one game. The Asia Cup is very important to us as it is a qualifying tournament for the World Cup. There is plenty of stake at place,” the coach said.
The top four team from the Asia Cup, scheduled to be held between January 21-28 at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat, will directly qualify for this year’s World Cup.
Schopman said her coaching style is simple: “work on your individual game and try to be dominant” over the opponents.
“As a coach I have a clear philosophy. I would like us to be more dominant when in possession. We need to work our game and strike a balance between attack and defence. The thing which we have learnt from Tokyo is that we need to focus on what we can control and can do ourselves,” she said.
“We need to figure out what we are good at on the pitch and see work on our shortcomings.”
Veteran goalkeeper Savita Punia, who will lead the side in the Asia Cup in the absence of regular skipper Rani Rampal who is recovering from an injury, said Tokyo Games is a thing of the past as a busy season awaits, which includes two big-ticket events — the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games.
“The whole year is important for us. We have 3-4 major tournaments lined up including the CWG and Asian Games. Besides we will also make our debut at the FIH Pro League this year.
“Our main focus is to qualify for the World Cup through Asia Cup and then win the Asian Games to directly qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics,” she said.